Apricot Sponge Recipe

apricot sponge

Apricots are my favorite June fruit. Around here, they are only available a few weeks, and each year I eagerly look forward to their appearance at the store. I recently bought some apricots, so was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Apricot Sponge.

Apricot Sponge is a smooth, silky dessert that is served with whipped cream.

My daughter ate some Apricot Sponge, and said, “A top-five recipe.”  In her opinion, this is one of the top five hundred-year-old recipes that I’ve served her. She thinks that it tastes like a luscious dessert that she ate at a fancy restaurant.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Apricot Sponge

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 pound apricots (about 7 medium apricots)

water for peeling apricots

1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1 envelope (0.25 ounce) unflavored gelatin

2  egg whites (pasteurized)

whipped cream (see below)

First, peel apricots. To do this, fill a saucepan two-thirds full with water. Using high heat bring to a boil. Drop apricots into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water with a spoon. Pinch a piece of the loosened apricot skin, then peel by slipping the skin off.

Cut the peeled apricots in half and remove stones. Place the apricots halves in a saucepan; add 1/4 cup of water. Using medium heat, heat until the apricots are softened, while stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat, then push the cooked apricots through a sieve. (I used a Foley mill). Measure the apricot pulp. There should be approximately 1 cup. Return to pan and reheat.

In the meantime, put 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin on the water. Let sit for about 3 minutes. Then stir the softened gelatin and the sugar into the hot apricot pulp.

Remove from heat, put into refrigerator and chill at least 3 hours.

After the mixture has chilled, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then, beat the chilled apricot mixture until smooth. Gently fold the beaten apricot mixture into the beaten egg whites. Spoon into serving bowls or cups.  Serve with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Put cream in a bowl; beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners’ sugar; beat until combined.

Corn Flake Griddlecakes

A hundred years ago people ate many unprocessed, local foods – but, even way back then, many processed foods were available; and, cooks often considered them more modern and up-to-date than more natural foods. This week I decided to make a recipe that called for two commercially manufactured foods – corn flakes and Crisco.

The recipe I selected was for Corn Flake Griddlecakes. This recipe is from a 1919 cookbook published by Procter and Gamble that promoted the use of Crisco.

And, even though I am somewhat biased against using highly processed foods as an ingredient, I must admit that the Corn Flake Griddlecakes were delicious. They were thick, yet light, with just a hint of the toasty corn flakes.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for corn flake griddlecakes
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks.

Corn Flake Griddlecakes (Pancakes)

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon shortening

1 cup corn flakes

Put flour, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and shortening in a mixing bowl, beat until smooth. Stir in corn flakes. Heat a lightly greased griddle to a medium temperature, then pour or scoop batter onto the hot surface to make individual griddlecakes. Cook on one side , then flip and cook other side.

Old-fashioned Feather Cake

square piece of feather cake

A recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Feather Cake piqued my interest. Was the cake really as light as a feather?

The short answer: No. The longer answer: This cake might not be as light as a feather, but it’s still delightful.

Feather Cake is a spice cake with nuanced tones of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It has a lovely texture – though it was not a particularly light cake. The cake was easy to make, and the recipe made a small 8 -inch square cake that is perfect for a small family.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for feather cake
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. This recipe calls for both baking soda and cream of tartar (rather than just using baking powder) – which suggests that even though this recipe appeared in a 1919 cookbook that its origins might be much earlier.

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Feather Cake

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins (optional) (I didn’t use raisins when I made this recipe.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Put all ingredients (except for the raisins) in a mixing bowl. Beat until well blended. If desired, stir in the raisins. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Frost if desired.

Old-fashioned Fried Spring (Green) Onions

fried spring onions

Now that winter is rapidly becoming a distant memory, I’m enjoying the first of the local 2019 vegetables, spring (green) onions. They are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B2, and thiamine. They also are a good source of copper, phosphorous, magnesium, chromium, and other minerals; so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Spring Onions.

The Fried Green Onions are served with bacon in a light gravy. They were easy to make and tasty.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for fried green onions
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Spring (Green) Onions

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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6 bunches spring onions (about 2 1/2 cups of green onions cut into 1-inch pieces)

3 slices bacon, diced

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups boiling water

Clean spring onions, then cut off roots and the top part of the onions. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

Place the bacon in a skillet; then using medium heat fry bacon until browned while stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.

Place the onion pieces in the hot fat in the skillet and saute until tender while stirring occasionally (about 5-7 minutes). Push onion pieces to side of pan and stir in the flour. Slowly add the boiling water while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, add bacon pieces. Gently stir to combine the bacon and onions. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Dandelions with Bacon or Ham Recipe

Each Spring a primordial urge pulls me out of the house –paring knife and bowl in hand– to the weedy natural area at the far edge of my yard. Luscious green dandelion plants peek through the brown leaf-covered grass. The winter has been long and hard, and I desperately need to renew myself. The tender foraged greens are my spring tonic (as they were for my parents and grandparents).

People traditionally ate a very limited selection of foods during the late winter months, and often they were nutrient-deprived by April. Their bodies told them they needed the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants provided by the emerging dandelion leaves.

Since I’m a dandelion connoisseur (Is it possible to be a connoisseur of weeds?) , I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Dandelion with Ham or Bacon.

I made the ham version. The ham bits nicely balanced the slight bitterness of the small tender dandelion leaves. As I hungrily devour the dish,  I can almost feel the nutrients surging through my body. I’ve made it through another winter. Spring (and fresh food) have arrived – and I know that the summer’s bounty will be here soon. Life is good.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (April, 1918)

When I made this recipe, I made one-quarter of the original recipe. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Dandelions with Ham or Bacon

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 quarts dandelion (8 cups)


4 ounces ham or bacon, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

Thoroughly wash the dandelion. (I triple wash it, and it is a slow process. The washing of the dandelion is what takes most of the time when making this recipe.)  Put in a large sauce pan and cover with boiling water. Place on stove, bring back to a boil using high heat. Boil for 15 seconds then remove from heat and drain thoroughly. Just barely cover the dandelion with fresh boiling water, add ham or bacon, salt, and pepper. Cover and place back on the stove. Return to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tend and the dandelions are almost dry (they should still have a little juice (about 25 minutes).  Remove from heat. If desired, serve with boiled turnips or potatoes.

Old-fashioned Beef Balls with Spaghetti

There are some foods where the recipes were just plain different a century ago than what they are now. Spaghetti is one of those foods. Modern marinara sauce recipes often call for basil and oregano, but those spices are seldom seen in old recipes.

I decided to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Beef Balls with Spaghetti. The recipe for the sauce called only for tomatoes, green pepper, onion, parsley, water, and salt. I had my doubts about the recipe, and worried that it won’t be spicy enough.

I worried needlessly. This recipe was a hit.

My husband said, “This spaghetti is great. It reminds me of the spaghetti they served when I was in elementary school. Mom never made spaghetti, and this was my favorite meal at school.”

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Cooking for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks. (I made this recipe entirely on top of the stove. I couldn’t figure out why the 1919 recipe calls for doing part of the cooking in the oven.)

Beef Balls with Spaghetti

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 28-ounce can tomatoes (or use a 1 quart jar of tomatoes)

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped + 1 teaspoon onion, grated

2 bunches parsley, chopped

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

1/4 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons shortening or cooking oil

1/2 pound spaghetti

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350° F. To make sauce, put tomatoes, green pepper, 1 chopped onion, parsley, water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove from heat, cool slightly, then puree.

While the vegetables are cooking, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon grated onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl, then shape into 12 balls each approximately 1-inch in diameter. Put shortening or oil into a skillet, and heat. Add the beef balls, and cook for 3-5 minutes, then gently roll over. Roll several times until browned on all sides.

Put spaghetti sauce back in sauce pan, add beef balls. Using medium heat bring to a boil; reduce heat and gently simmer for 45 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Beginning about 15 minutes before the sauce will be finished, cook spaghetti according to package instructions.

To serve, remove sauce from heat, and take beef balls out of the sauce.  Add spaghetti and parmasen cheese to the sauce, and lift with a fork until well blended. Add meatballs. Serve immediately

Runkel’s Fudge Roll

People often say to me, “You make all those hundred-year-old recipes . . . Don’t you ever have cooking disasters?”

And, I usually reply, “I seldom have a disaster. Most recipes turn out fine, but I make them only once; some are very good and I make them a couple of times; and, a few I absolutely love and they have become part of my regular cooking repertoire.”

But, I do occasionally have cooking disasters. This is one of those times.

I found a recipe for Runkel’s Fudge Roll in an advertisement for Runkel’s Cocoa in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, and thought to myself, “I bet this will be a good recipe. Usually recipes in advertisements were carefully tested.”

Wrong – The fudge filling hardened very quickly, and was difficult to spread; AND, the cake base broke into pieces when I tried to roll it.

The one good thing about this recipe is that it was very tasty – even though it didn’t look very nice.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1919)

Runkel's Fudge Roll

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: difficult
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2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Put butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a mixing bowl, and stir together. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until smooth. Put batter on a 15x10x1 -inch baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the batter goes to the edges and corners of the pan, and that it is spread evenly. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn upside down on a piece of parchment paper that has been covered with sugar. Peel off the parchment paper that was used when baking. Immediately spread with the fudge filling, and roll as for a jelly roll.

Fudge Filling

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter using medium low heat in a saucepan, add cocoa and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar, salt, and milk. Increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and add vanilla. Beat until smooth, and spread on cake base. Note: This icing hardens quickly. Immediately spread as soon as it reaches a spreadable consistency.